Best Cities: Skylines mods

Cities: Skylines turned three a couple of weeks ago, meaning that it’s time to dust off our best Cities: Skylines mods list and see what wonderful community creations we can fill it with. On the day of its launch, Skylines already had pages and pages of buildings and complicated junctions waiting to be downloaded; now there are 1,000 of them, containing a ridiculous 145,948 mods.

That’s quite a lot of stuff to get through. And you should absolutely give Steam Workshop a browse — you never know what you might find. If you don’t want to faff, however, I’ve gathered a bunch of the best, including some personal favourites that I can’t live without. Most of these mods will work with the base game, but there are a few you’ll need one of the expansions for, and remember to check for conflicts.

bladerunner

Ghost in the Shell Buildings

The first question I ask myself when building a new city is how futuristic and gaudy do I want it to be? The answer is always: as gaudy and futuristic as possible. You’ll undoubtedly notice a theme in this list. This makes the Ghost in the Shell Buildings pack essential, though it’s more understated than a lot of my sci-fi mods, making it a solid addition to a contemporary city as well.

Blade Runner Police Tower and Tyrell Corporation Pyramid

While we’re talking cyberpunk, let’s not forget about Blade Runner. You can’t get more ostentatious than these two buildings. The Tyrell pyramid is particularly impressive, and it’s perfect if you want something in your city that screams malevolence. The police tower looks a little bit off during the day, I think it’s all the black, but at night it’s incredible.

tower

FOGBAE-TOWR4

Let’s stay in the future with the imposing, monolithic power station FOGBAE-TOWR4. Is there a hint of Brutalism about it? Who cares, it looks bad ass. It’s also practical, providing electricity for all the terrified ants scurrying below. Get this building to let all your citizens know that the state will crush them.

Gula’s Architectural Designs

Okay, Okay, you don’t all want futuristic cities. Gula’s Architectural Designs is a 24-item collection from the titular modder, and it’s a corker. It contains everything from a giant hamster statue to a KFC, Taco Bell combo. There’s plenty inbetween, too, including schools and skyscrapers. It’s a diverse, high-quality pack.

Quad Collection

The Quad Collection contains a whopping 166 items, and while I’m a fan because of the vast number of flashy sci-fi or sci-fi-adjacent buildings like Xenophilia, it’s also full of contemporary skyscrapers and offices that would fit perfectly in any modern city. If you don’t want to sift through hundreds of buildings, this is a great time saver.

Sunken Train Station

I love it when cities try to hide large buildings and infrastructure, making them seem more open, so I guess I like sunken train stations too (whether in brick and concrete). If you’re looking for subtlety over flair, then this is the transport link for you.

Amsterdam Centraal Station

But if you want a train station that’s also an in-your-face piece of architectural art, then you’ll be wanting something like Amsterdam Centraal Station. It’s a gorgeous six-track station based on the real Amsterdam Centraal, and it’s fat with details. Just take a peek inside!

helicarrier

Timboh’s Marvelous Interchange Emporium

This collection of junctions is a mainstay for me, and has been since just after Cities: Skylines launched, though it’s grown a lot since then. I love making road networks, as I suspect anyone who came to Skylines after Colossal Order’s Cities in Motion would, but it’s tricky and takes up a lot of time. Timboh’s Marvelous Interchange Emporium alleviate some of the pressure, and show you want talented people can do with some tarmac.

Sharp Junction Angles

Sharp Junction Angles does what it says on the tin, allowing you to make sharper angles when constructing roads, freeing you up to make a more elaborate, fine-tuned transport network. It also comes with Road Anarchy, a crazy mod that lets you make physics-defying streets that wouldn’t look out of place in Trackmania.

Advanced Road Anarchy

anarchy

Speaking of Road Anarchy, here’s its bigger sibling Advanced Road Anarchy. It’s largely the same mod, allowing you to throw caution to the wind and construct the most dangerous, ill-conceived motorways anyone has ever concocted. But it also has buttons, an options panel and info text.

CTCN Transport – Blimp

When the Mass Transit expansion came out, we finally got chubby blimps that could fly around the city, picking up and depositing excited citizens and tourists. Blimps are pretty retro, though, and by now I’m sure you know what I like. Yeah, let’s turn those blimps into helicarriers. The CTCN Transport is a functional blimp, but sexier. Fill the skies with them!

Better Planes Pack

Planes deserve some love, too. The Better Planes Pack introduces two plane types and eight liveries to make them stand out. Right now they’re mostly US planes and paint jobs, but more international ones are coming. And while they’re functional planes, there are also prop versions, allowing you to dump them anywhere.

Mini

I just really like Minis.

Los Santos

Newport City (Niihama) Map

This Ghost in the Shell map comes with the Ghost in the Shell Buildings pack, but I’m adding it here too because you can never have too much Ghost in the Shell. Even when it’s a not-great live action movie that, I’m sorry, I really enjoyed.

Belmont County Transport

When the Mass Transit expansion arrived, it came with some transport-specific scenarios, but what if you don’t have Mass Transit? Belmont County Transport is a scenario map that tasks you with linking a bunch of little towns together, transporting 1 million citizens in 750 weeks, without using the metro. Try not to use other transport mods if you want the full challenge.

New Orleans Disasters

new orleans

If you’ve got the Natural Disasters DLC and are looking for a scenario to test your sanity and ability to remain calm and collected during a crisis, you might want to take a gander at New Orleans Disasters. The map uses realistic elevation and sea levels, so it’s extremely prone to flooding.

New York City

It’s not a proper city builder without a nice big map of New York to play with. This is just a really cool space to build a city on, whether it’s your own version of New York or something entirely new.

Skyrim

You’ve wandered around the map for 100 hours, now build a modern city on it. Skyrim is an unusual, tricky space to build on, but it’s also one of the most stunning Cities: Skylines maps that I’ve seen. There’s such a huge attention to detail that I feel terribly guilty plonking down big, ugly industrial buildings. This is definitely a map you’ll want to build a green city on.

Los Santos

One of the first big map mods, GTA V’s Los Santos remains one of my favourites. Like the Skyrim map, the limitations force you to really plan ahead and make a city that conforms to the dramatic environment.

chirp

First Person Camera: Updated

What do your citizens see when they walk through your city? This first-person camera mod lets you see through their eyes. It’s pure novelty, but ever since Dungeon Keeper let me possess my minions, I’ve always had a soft spot for management games that let you get down to street level.

81 Tiles

This mod unlocks the whole map, expanding the building zone from 25 tiles to 81. That’s a big city. You can unlock them one-by-one, just like you normally would, or all at once, letting you expand in all directions straight away. This will obviously have a performance impact, especially once your city starts growing.

Automatic Bulldoze

Burned down and abandoned buildings linger, ruining property values and making your city look hideous. Demolishing them one by one, especially in a huge metropolis, is a right pain in the arse. This makes Automatic Bulldoze, which knocks them all down at the touch of a button, absolutely essential.

Reddit For Chirpy: Updated

reddit

Chirpy, Cities: Skylines’ Nazi-free version of Twitter, can now keep you informed of all the newest posts on any subreddit you fancy. See, Chirpy can be useful.

Chirpy Exterminator

No, Chirpy is a demon who must be excised from the game, and that’s exactly what Chirpy Exterminator does. With it, he’s gone forever, never to ruin your mood with the inane thoughts of your idiotic citizens.

More Beautification

More Beautification introduces props to the main toolbar button under the Decoration tab. You can place as many as 65531 props in the game, though it doesn’t add new props, it just gives you access to the existing ones. Grab Prop Snapping and Prop Anarchy as well, to extend the capabilities of the mod.

We’ve reached the end of list, but by no means the ends of City: Skylines mods. This will be more than enough to get you started, but there’s a whole universe of weird statues, spaghetti junctions and towering skyscrapers out there. And as always, if you’ve got some favourites that haven’t made it onto the list, let the world know in the comments.

20 Comments

  1. lrbaumard says:

    Please don’t recomend the sunken train station, as amazing as it looks, its broken
    When you reload a save, it severs all tracks to it or removes the whole station itself
    A big shame

    • Fraser Brown says:

      Oh! Last time I tested it, I didn’t notice any problems. I’ll check it tonight and update the list accordingly. Thanks for the heads up!

      • lrbaumard says:

        No worries, as i said its an amazing asset, one of best stations in the game
        I read comments section o workshop and it seems like people still have issues

  2. Grizzly says:

    I just really like Minis.

    They’re rad! I even fit inside them, unlike similar sized BMWs even though they are made by the same company…

  3. Premium User Badge

    Drib says:

    Neat! I loved Cities: Skylines, it was exactly the shot in the arm that the city building genre needed after the latest SimCity was such a mess.

    Mods are always fun, and might breathe a bit more life into it, even if I think I’ll avoid the completely weirdo ones like the trackmania road deal.

    Though what’s up with people hating on Chirpy? I’ve seen that everywhere, I think it’s kind of a neat, modern-ish way of having your citizens’ concerns relayed to the player. I mean sure it’s irritating, but being annoyed by the rabble is part of being mayor.

    • Vilos Cohaagen says:

      I just ignore it and concentrate on building crazy cities :)

    • dontnormally says:

      For me, it is the abysmal placement that makes it unbearable.

  4. Kollega says:

    I wonder if there are many people like me; the ones who want a city-builder that would follow in the tracks of SimCity 4 with its custom region building feature, and would focus on the macro-level simulation, letting the player create an entire region or nation – with cities in locations they desire and infrastructure connecting them. Surely market could sustain more than just Cities: Skylines, as good as that game is!

  5. Gap Gen says:

    I really enjoy this, which among other things renders metro tunnels properly, and lets you put metro lines overground: link to steamcommunity.com (warning, it now needs you to get metro trains from a depot)

  6. Bracknellexile says:

    Move It! Possibly the single most useful mod ever created for any game ever. It pretty much has to be in any best-of list for C:S, doesn’t it?

  7. Nickburger says:

    This would probably start a complete internet comment firestorm but I would love a mod that simulated class conflict and racial segregation. As far as I can tell, all your citizens are white (except for one black basketball player) and there is no downside to completely gentrifying your entire city.

    As an American city-dweller playing Skylines, it feels SO strange (uncanny-valleyish) to be simulating a city where class and race dynamics don’t exist in any way.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      First off, I don’t think most American cities are quite the roiling pit of racial and economic inequity that you’re implying, though they’re not exactly Cities Skylines level of… weird egalitarian bliss?

      But I also can’t think of any way to simulate this (mod for CS or otherwise) that wouldn’t immediately get decried by every possible ‘side’ or direction as being completely inaccurate. There’s just no way to do it in a way that would please anyone, anywhere.

      • Nickburger says:

        The data might not support “roiling” but it is pretty obvious that American cities *are* “pits” of inequality. The typical American city is extremely racially segregated (link to nytimes.com) and the the most iconic American cities tend to also be the ones with the most income inequality (link to brookings.edu).
        Also, if you follow city politics, “failing” schools in poor neighborhoods, gentrification, and racial inequalities in policing are some of the biggest issues.
        And just from personal observation, class and ethnic divides are a major influence on how people experience cities. Where’s Chinatown? Where are the projects? Where’s the hipster neighborhood with all the galleries and expensive coffee shops?

        I agree with you that simulating any of this stuff would cause a crazy outcry. But it is just as much an awkward and political decision to pretend all these fundamental aspects of city life just don’t exist and don’t matter. It’s like playing a flight simulator where you take off and land by pressing a take off/land button.

        • gmx0 says:

          Maybe they’re simulating Scandinavian-ish European cities that are so racist that they limit immigration to anyone to almost non-existent and hence everyone is almost white in it. How’s that for institutionalized racism? America is bad, but at least our immigration policies are not racist enough to be shut off. So either racism in the high level or racism in the low level.

    • Kollega says:

      It may surprise you, but a game like that exists. It’s called “City Life”, it came out in 2006, and it simulated class conflict and racial segregation in city districts in a really ham-fisted way that’d get it hate-mobbed for insensitivity if it came out today.

      To wit: you had six categories of citizens – the underclass, the hippies, the blue-collar workers, the hipsters, the suits, and the snooty elite. And if e.g. hippies and suits, or blue-collars and hipsters, or elites and have-nots occupied the neighboring city districts, then it was a one-way route to class conflict, riots, and having to send in SWAT teams with helicopters to literally stand between the two sides untill they cool right the hell off. 2006 was indeed a very different time.

      Here is the game’s Wikipedia page, which explains things in more detail. It wasn’t that great of a citybuilder, overall, but it was okay for the time. At least it wasn’t as awful as SimCity Societies, so that’s something.

      • Nickburger says:

        Never heard of it! Thanks for the recommendation!
        It’s a shame that the city building is mediocre and the politics is ham-fisted but I think I would appreciate that they attempt it at all.
        I wonder if you could avoid the hate mobs by having all the race and class dynamics totally customizable with sliders? You could set sliders to zero to get semi-creepy utopian cities like in Skylines or you could go to 100 and have nonstop riots. Or maybe you could have settings where the sliders change dynamically based on how you distribute resources around your city. Ugg! So many interesting things city simulators *could* do if the developers cared at all.

    • Sound says:

      I’ve previously suggested on the forums that I’d pay good money for an expansion that better reflects real city issues, particularly the matter of poverty. I too want a city sim that’s more reflective of the realities you mention, but framing it as you present it would probably present a problem. But it could be streamlined into a slightly more amorphous “poverty,” which doesn’t precisely strike people as class-based(even though it fundamentally is), and doesn’t really acknowledge racialization, but still addresses a lot of the problem in spite of the whitewashing.

      IRL I’m an organizer in civic & labor matters in a large tech city, and I deal with these topics every day. So when I revisit Skylines, and come to the point where I need to plop down a police department, and have to pay attention to how they built the “crime” mechanic, it turns me right off. Particularly after noting that there’s NO problem making housing as expensive as possible, etc.

  8. LSh.st says:

    How about small and smart bus Olli?
    that’s really cute and small but smart bus =D

    link to steamcommunity.com

    (of coures, i try some time use AVO mod. because passenger number possible change 100. lol)

  9. Mortomes says:

    No mention of Traffic Manager: President Edition? This entire article is a sham!

  10. bsquiklehausen says:

    As a Cities Skylines player (and one of the modders featured on this list!) I have some advice –

    Sharp Junction Angles and Road Anarchy have been basically combined into Fine Road Anarchy, which is the most up to date and feature complete.

    Also the Better Planes Pack has been complete for about 18 months, and features 50 liveries and somewhere around 15-20 plane types. I’d personally appreciate an update to the article saying that! There will also be something crazy like 30 more plane types coming hopefully before the summer, if you want to tease that!